Saturday, October 10, 2009
The Sword of Doom (Dai-Bosatsu toge)
This is a 1966 black and white film from director Kihachi Okamoto. The Japanese name of the film is Dai-Bosatsu toge which I believe means "The Pass of the Boddhisattva".
Tatsuya Nakadai and Toshiro Mifune star in the story of a wandering samurai who exists in a maelstrom of violence. A gifted swordsman-plying his trade during the chaotic final days of the Tokugawa Shogunate's rule-Ryunosuke (Nakadai) kills without remorse, without mercy. It is a way of life that ultimately leads to madness. The Sword of Doom is a thrilling story of a man who choses to devote his life to evil.
This movie is marvelously shot in black and white which enhances the grim background of the story. The movie is full of incredible and stunning sword fights, some of the best I have seen in any movie. One of the most suspenseful and awesome duels involved bokken, wooden swords. The tension and suspense as the two combatants stared each other down was edge-of-the seat awesome. It is Toshiro Mifune, who plays sensei Shimada, whose words about the sword being the extension of the soul which is probably responsible for Ryunosuke's final slide into madness and leads to his bloody rampage at a brothel. This movie includes some of the political intrigue of the time with the bloody and violent samurai corps of the Shogun, the Shinsengumi, but the movie is really about the talented but extremely disturbed young samurai. One thing about this movie is the ending, it will shock most people. Some will like it but others will be left saying "WTF" and be disappointed. One of the reasons the ending occurs the way it does is because this film was supposed to be the first of a trilogy but for some reason the remaining films were unfortunately never made. However, this is one of the few films that makes me want to watch it again immediately. It was good, really good. But the very last scene nevertheless had me saying one huge "WTF JUST HAPPENED".